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Approaching probate correctly is more important than avoiding it

For a lot of estate planners in Texas, one of the primary goals is to avoid probate as much as possible, or for as many assets as possible. According to some experts, however, it's more important to approach probate correctly than to avoid it altogether. In cases where a person dies intestate, or without a will, an administrator is appointed by the probate court to manage the distribution of assets.

When a person dies testate, or with a will, their estate is managed by the executor named in the will. Having a will can save time for the decedent's heirs as the executor might be able to begin making distributions even as the probate process continues. Individuals who want certain assets to avoid probate can name heirs as co-owners on bank accounts or other valuable assets. Some assets can be set up with a transfer on death provision so that ownership automatically transfers to one owner when the other dies.

A potential problem with that structure occurs when the people die in an unexpected order. If the asset is transferred to a minor via a transfer-on-death provision, the probate court might have to administer the transfer anyway. Revocable or irrevocable trusts can also be designed to take ownership of assets so these assets can pass outside of probate.

Texas residents who have questions about the likely operation of probate on their estates might want to seek legal guidance. A lawyer with experience in estate administration and probate might be able to help a client create an estate plan that meets their goals and needs. In some cases, a lawyer might suggest powers of attorney to protect the client if they become incapacitated.

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